On February 14th in Parkland, Florida 14 students and three staff members were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School by a former 19 year old student. Survivors including Emma González, David Hogg, and many others have refused to stay silent.
Since the shooting, major controversy has sparked over gun laws. Major retailers have changed policies, students have aired on 60 Minutes, and even Ben Platt and Lin-Manuel Miranda have collaborated on a song to benefit the initiative. Many individuals are working hard to make sure this shooting is the last mass school shooting in this nation. One of the key differences in this reform is the support coming from the younger generations.
Pat Rowley, a senior Sports Management major, decided he also wanted to be a part of the change happening across the country. Rowley grew up in Newtown, Connecticut where he saw firsthand how school shootings can affect a community. Like many, Rowley voices that he too feels as if shootings such as these have become a sad new normal in our country.
Rowley mentions his inspiration to be a part of the change is rooted from the survivors of Parkland. He says, “When I saw 16,17, and 18 year olds organizing something so amazing, and my 14 year old sister Gloria and her classmates were walking out to fight for gun reform, I felt compelled to do something too.” He continues, “After yet another shooting in Parkland, FL, I was inspired by how students who had just endured and lost so much were brave enough to demand action and not be forgotten by organizing the March for Our Lives.”
Rowley took it upon himself to reach out to organizations such as D.C. Teens Action, the Newtown Action Alliance, the University of Connecticut, Takoma Village Cohousing and more in order to give UConn students the ability to attend the march at no cost. The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, through the UConn Parents Fund, have covered the costs which coincide with the march. Rowley reveals, “[The organizations] have provided so much support both in arranging and providing so students wouldn’t have to pay to attend a march that is important to them.”
Students will leave UConn around noon on March 23rd after a lunch provided by the university in the Student Union, travel to Washington by bus, meet other schools and organizations at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland and reside at Takoma Village Cohousing for the night.
On March 24th breakfast will be provided along with making meals for lunch, students will depart for Pennsylvania Avenue, meet up with groups of students heavily involved with planning the march such as the Stoneman Douglas students, and march with the expected thousands of people demanding change. After the march, students will be provided a bus back to the university along with dinner.
Rowley’s action and devotion to this cause is inspiring to say the least. He has created an amazing opportunity for students at the university to be a part of a major change happening in our society. Whether your pro or against guns, our nation should never have to face another tragedy such as the Parkland shooting and it seems as if reform is on the way.